Cocos (Keeling) Islands Aircraft Pavement Refurbishment

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The Australian Department of Finance and Deregulation appointed GHD in 2011 to undertake the feasibility, design and construction phase services of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands (CKI) Aircraft Pavement Refurbishment Project on behalf of the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport.

The airport plays a significant role in the life of the local community. All goods and services delivered to CKI are by either ship or aircraft. These delivery services are dependent on facilities, the weather and limited local resources. During the wet season when the unloading of ships is not possible, the delivery of essential food, supplies and services is dependent on airfreight. The CKI Aircraft Pavement Refurbishment works aimed at extending the life of the aircraft pavement.

Due to the project’s successful completion, the community now has a safe and dependable aerodrome, securing the islands’ supply chain, supporting the delivery of medical, fresh food and public transport services to the islands.

Key to the project’s success was the research undertaken by GHD to understand the original design and conditions, as well as the natural environment. As a sensitive and unique atoll in the Indian Ocean, access to the site is restricted, to ensure the impact on the local environment is minimal. Due to the isolated location of the airport, careful consideration was required for procurement and logistics.

Originally constructed in 1952, the runway’s pavement construction consisted of coral with the subgrade a coral sand, posing an unusual engineering challenge. After not receiving major maintenance to aircraft pavement surfaces for approximately 27 years, the surfaces had deteriorated. The necessary maintenance activities to address pressing operational and safety concerns included patching, minor shape correction and a re-seal. Due to the remote nature of the islands, it was important to provide an asset that was easy to maintain by local employees, who generally lacked experience in this area. To assist in the transfer of maintenance skills to the local airport management staff, our team prepared a comprehensive maintenance manual. This included a range of photographs demonstrating the most common maintenance requirements, along with detailed instructions for their treatment.

Together with the department, GHD has created an important transport asset for the CKI community, with improved reliability and increased capacity for freight and passenger flights. There is also an additional benefit of enabling new construction contracts to be undertaken. In addition, the refurbishment has provided both security and consistency for the community due to the increase of Australian Air Force flights, scheduled domestic flights and the significant upturn in government chartered aircraft.



In addition to enhancing the way assets are managed, a new holistic approach to delivering integrated aviation services is needed to improve operational performance, commercial opportunities and returns to stakeholders. As the global industry evolves in response to economic, environmental and social drivers, it has never been more critical to deliver effective services and achieve maximum benefit on capital investment.

To address these challenges, GHD’s aviation solutions provides services underpinned by integrated transport strategies and aviation business knowledge. Our people combine technical skill with an intimate understanding of the aviation industry to address challenges.

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Pavement Engineering


Your single most valuable asset is arguably the pavement system within your network. We understand that pavements are subjected to static and dynamic loads as well as exposure to the elements; only sound engineering judgment, informed by experienced and qualified staff, can provide cost concious and appropriate solutions to your pavement challenges.

We demonstrate an innovative, sustainable approach through our relationships with research centres of excellence at Delft (Holland) Wisconsin (USA) Stellenbosch (South Africa) Transit New Zealand UWA (Western Australia) and ARRB (Australia).

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